To the furthest reaches of Turkmenistan's west, the city of Turkmenbashi sits on the coast of the Caspian Sea, backed by low mountains and looking across the gulf to Azerbaijan. An important and busy port town, formerly known under the Russians as Krasnovodsk, it was renamed in 1993 to mean "the start [or spring] of the Turkmen".

Sitting on the coast, the port of Turkmenbashi is rocky and not ideal for swimming, however, the nearby seaside town and beach of Awaza is one of the most popular holiday spots in the country. Marking the end of the Caucasus and the gateway to Turkmenistan, Turkmenbashi and the Balkan province of which it is an important administrative center have a more Russian feel than the rest of the country. The Russian Orthodox church is a good example as well as the memorials commemorating those who died during World War II, while the city was still Krasnovodsk. Older local history can be discovered, however, at the Regional Lore Museum.


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Less than seven miles from Turkmenbashi city center is the seaside resort town of Awaza. This popular is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike who flood to the beach every summer to relax and enjoy some leisure time in the waters and in the high quality hotels overlooking the ocean.

Cemetery of the World War II Prisoners of War

During WWII, thousands of Japanese POWs spent years in what was then Krasnovodsk, building the roads that now connect the city with the rest of the country. The graveyard and its monument commemorate those who died while imprisoned.

Local Lore Museum

Get a feel for the west of Turkmenistan in the quaint old building that houses the Regional History Museum. It’s packed with facts, stories and exhibits unique to the Balkan area, including maps, traditional clothing and authentic housing; as such, it’s a great way to acclimatize to the local way of life and history.

Russian Orthodox Church

Due to the history of Russian rule, major cities in Turkmenistan usually have at least one Russian Orthodox church, and Turkmenbashi is no exception. Elaborately decorated and well-preserved, the church is set back from the seafront, built into what was the city’s fortress walls.

War Memorial

Near the railway station, on the seaward-facing side of the cultural palace, stands a memorial commemorating the Turkmenistani soldiers killed in World War II. The memorial features a statue of Atamurat Niyazov, President Niyazov's father, at whose feet burns a constant flame.

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